New lightning capital of the U.S. now in SWFL

Posted at 6:43 AM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 06:43:32-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Move over Tampa Bay, there's a new lighting hot spot in the United States.

New research has now pinpointed the exact location that sees the most strikes in the country, and it's in Southwest Florida.

The flash of lightning and the sound of thunder are common to the region, and for those who say Southwest Florida gets a lot of stormy weather, now the research can back it up.  Using new satellite technology, scientists at the Univeristy of Alabama and NASA are now able to better pinpoint the exact location to see who gets the most lightning.

Their study revealed that the lightning capital of the world is now in Venezuela at Lake Maracaibo, taking the crown from Africa's Congo basin.

Florida's lightning isn't quite as historic, but it can be pretty spectacular. The newest rankings reveal that the lightning hot spot of the United States is no longer in central Florida, but near the Everglades, in the community of Orangetree.  Its a community of just over 4,000 along Oil Well Road, about halfway between Naples and Immokalee.

And with our summertime regime of sea breeze-generated thunderstorms, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the new capital is in Southwest Florida. Fort Myers averages about 96 thunderstorm days a year, most of them in July.  And that's why while Florida is the Sunshine State, it's also the lightning capital of the country.

Lightning deaths tend to occur more in Florida than any other state and during June, July, and August, when most people are outside having fun. That's why it's important to practice lighting safety, especially as we approach the summer months. Remember that when thunder roars, go indoors.